How attention management helps your team reach big, hairy, ambitious goals

Time management alone won’t solve the problem because no amount of calendar Tetris can alter the way your brain functions. The missing piece is a mental practice known as attention management – the art of consciously setting aside trivial matters and directing our focus to bigger, more important things.

Attention management isn’t about eliminating distractions, according to author and coach Maura Thomas. (Watch a 2-minute summary from her TEDx talk here.) It’s a matter of being intentional about how you respond to them – specifically, giving the most attention to the most meaningful, high-impact tasks. For individuals, the tactics include ruthlessly scrutinizing your to-do list, setting up a focus-friendly work environment, and banishing all attempts at multi-tasking.

Why attention management matters for teams

Time management alone won’t solve the problem because no amount of calendar Tetris can alter the way your brain functions. The missing piece is a mental practice known as attention management – the art of consciously setting aside trivial matters and directing our focus to bigger, more important things.

  • Time management as we know it
  • Tetris game is totally masterpiece of outstanding mind
  • The missing piece of famous painting
  • Mental practice for developing your best side

Attention management isn’t about eliminating distractions, according to author and coach Maura Thomas. (Watch a 2-minute summary from her TEDx talk here.) It’s a matter of being intentional about how you respond to them – specifically, giving the most attention to the most meaningful, high-impact tasks. For individuals, the tactics include ruthlessly scrutinizing your to-do list, setting up a focus-friendly work environment, and banishing all attempts at multi-tasking.

How to practice attention management at scale

No matter how good your team is at formulating a strategy or mapping out bold initiatives, you’ll never get the results you want if everyone accidentally fritters away their time (and energy!) on low-impact activities. The best way to prevent that is by taking deliberate, conscious measures like these.

1. Stay connected to the “why”

When you’re trying to push a big rock up a hill, at some point (like when your legs cramp up) you’re going to wonder if the payoff is really worth all this effort. When that moment comes, a sharp sense of purpose will help you resist the temptation to prop the rock in place and go lie down and watch a cat video.

Whatever your team’s “big rock” is, everyone should have a shared understanding of why you’re tackling it. If you haven’t already, spend a few minutes in your next team or project meeting discussing that. Then, as you go along, put that “why” statement at the top of every document, chart, Slack channel, and slide deck related to the project for reinforcement.

  1. Time management as we know it
  2. Tetris game is totally masterpiece of outstanding mind
  3. The missing piece of famous painting
  4. Mental practice for developing your best side

2. Prioritize ruthlessly, decline compassionately

For medium- to long-term prioritization, nothing beats the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework pioneered by Google. As a team, you’ll define two or three high-level objectives to pursue. These objectives are either the “big rocks” themselves, or components of a single big rock. For each objective, you’ll define two or three measurable results, which, if achieved, will tell you that you’re on the right track. Then throughout the quarter or year, you’ll assess and score your progress against your key results. When laid out in a shared document (may I recommend a Confluence page?), OKRs become a touchstone for the team to refer to when new requests or ideas come their way. If the activity furthers one of your objectives, find a way to make space for it. If not, gently decline to take it on right now, but consider revisiting the idea later.

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Minsk Saint Louis
Minsk

Meleja st 1, 312 Minsk, 220113, Belarus

+375 29 307 2647 minsk@raisetech.net

Saint Louis

567 Hanley Industrial Ct, BRENTWOOD, MO 63144, USA

+1 314-583-9865 stl@raisetech.net